Planet Funk is the coming together of Marco Baroni, Sergio Della Monica, Alex Neri and Dominico GG Canu, Italian and English producers who found a common link in their desire to create a new kind of dance music, a new kind of funk. Bored with traditional notions of Italian Dance Music, they sought to inject a new life into the tired cliché that had become their scene. “We tried to produce something fresh. In the creative moment we try to let ideas come freely,” says Marco Baroni, through a crackly telephone line from sun drenched Italy. Meeting in 1999 at the Miami Music Conference, they joined together and produced the incredibly successful “Chase the Sun”, a song that got an incredible amount of airplay, which you are sure to recognise once you hear it. After the release, the guys spent a whopping two years in the studio, producing their debut album “Non-Zero Sumness”.
“We each knew each other through our individual projects”, Baroni explains, “but met up in Miami. We were looking at doing something a little bit different, because we all had been doing this for about ten years or so.” Their time in the studio was well worth it, as they took the time to finish their tracks, and learnt to work with each other cohesively. “Its not so simple as when you stay with people a long time, sometimes you fight maybe for a cigarette”, he laughs. “Now we know each other much better than we did a few years ago and work very relaxedly with each other”.
The album features two incredible singers from the UK, Dan Black and Sally Doherty. Dan Black is the front man for the group “The Servant”, and his voice has that punk rock edge, often sounding like a cross between Ozzy Ozborne and Shaun Ryder from the Happy Mondays. Planet Funk found Black through “the guys from Naples producing his album, and we like the way he sings and he really seemed right”. The decided they wanted his unique voice and punk mentality on their album, and sent him an instrumental version of “The Switch”. “He really liked the music, and wrote some lyrics for our songs. He gives the music a different style, brings a different feeling from ‘dance’. We wanted to get something different from the rest of the album, and people’s reaction is fantastic, they really like it.” Sally Doherty, a folk singer trained in Gaelic and Classical singing, was discovered over the internet, proving that this new medium can work for independent artists.
In addition to winning 3 prestigious Italian Music awards, Best band, Best newcomer and Best dance act, Planet Funk have been played by DJs across the world from Pete Tong to Adam Freeland, and have been highly praised in the European press. However, Marco holds his audience in higher esteem than the press. “We always try to think in terms of the people, because the people, the crowd, are our life. We like to make music for the people. All this reaction from Italy was fantastic, but normally we don’t like to think in these terms. We like to think of music directed to the people as most honestly as possible.”
The live show has become Planet Funk’s main focus; something that I imagine would be quite difficult for a group of dance producers. Baroni is frank in his assessment of playing live. “We like very much to play live. It was another natural step for us. We just love the reaction from the crowd. Our music changes a bit when we play live, we use real drummers, 3 singers, and we make a show of it”. The live show must be pretty impressive, as they have played in front of crowds as large as 70,000 people. The live element has also helped the direction of the next album. “We’ve just started to write for the next album, and we’re happy with what we’ve done so far. The success of the first album is important, and playing live is important. When we try and write new, different things there’s not so much pressure.”
Planet Funk’s album “Non Zero Sumness” is out now through Sony Music, and Baroni says that they’re hoping to bring their live show to Australia during the European Winter. “We’re Chasing the Sun” he laughs.